Since last updating the website a few months back, I have produced several new chamber works.
SOLO CELLO. My 3rd and 4th suites for solo cello, Matter A and Matter B, both comprise five pieces. Matter A includes Urgent, Gray, No Laughing, Anti, and Delicate. Matter B is made up of Subject, Dark, Whatsa, Grave, and Does It. While the lighthearted titles don’t mean lack of seriousness, there is in fact more humor than usual. No Laughing looks at humor in music while questioning the concert tradition of the grave and grandiose. Whatsa is based a rhythm reminiscent of D’Angelo’s “funk epic” Sugah Daddy. Subject is built entirely of fragments of fugue subjects from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier. As usual, I had friend and collaborator Douglas McNames in mind when writing for the cello. A few enhancements can be expected as Doug works through the pieces and we consider them together. Even Brahms had his Joseph Joachim to advise on the violin, so no shame there.
SOLO VIOLIN. Raven Thoughts (Hrafna Hugsanir) was written for a new friend and collaborator, Icelandic violinist Eva Ingolf. Eva, now a resident of New York City, made her reputation as a Bach specialist but is currently concentrating on electric violin. A composer herself, she regularly commissions and performs new music. Eva premiered the fourth piece in the set at Symphony Space in New York and has now presented the entire work in on a Mélomanie concert in Delaware and then across Iceland. Raven Thoughts consists of four brief pieces. Danger (Vá): Under constant threat in a harsh environment, ravens watch for, communicate, and defend against threats. Loss (Missir): What do ravens feel when a predator raids a nest or kills one of the flock? Flight (Flug): Ravens’ flight is similar to crows’ but more soaring and graceful. The viewpoint hovers between observation of a raven in flight and the perspective of the raven itself. Survival (Lifun): A celebration of survival—danger averted, food secured, young successfully fledged. The traditional Icelandic song Krummavísur appears in fragmentary form.
ARRANGEMENTS OF ICELANDIC SONGS. Icelandic Songs, Sacred and Secular (Íslensk lög, helg og veraldlega) was requested by the baroque/modern chamber ensemble Mélomanie for a concert with Icelandic violinist Eva Ingolf, who introduced us to many traditional Icelandic songs. The six selected for this group come from different sources and eras but all are ancient and all represent Icelandic culture. The arrangements are for flute, two violins, viola da gamba, cello, and harpsichord.
TRUMPET AND PIANO. I was honored by a commission for a piece for trumpet and piano for Andy Stetson and Becca Zeisler. The three of us were determined not to produce “another trumpet sonata.” Instead, we have four pieces called None of the Above. The first piece, None of the Above, an impassioned rejection of standard categories and traditional limitations, is an outburst of energy and complexity, incisive for the trumpet and big for the piano. In the second piece, B, C, and D, the recurring pitches B, C, and D provide an armature for a free-form set of compositional musings and improvisations. Other (explain), is an investigation of what happens when fauxbourdon meets the octatonic scale, all with subtly Brazilian rhythms to carry it along. The finale, All of the Above, is, I hope, an evocation of brotherhood, sisterhood, and acceptance. It’s more bluesy than my usual language, but that seemed to be called for. A freewheeling piano interlude ensures the collaborative pianist has her say.